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Talk Me Off the Ledge - I Want to Write Another Book

recursivefaults profile image Ryan Latta ・1 min read

Ever meet someone who has a tattoo and is satisfied with just that one?

Me either. Only writing books is feeling like that.

So a while ago I took a writing class because I was tired of feeling like I should update my blog more. By the end I decided that I should write a book. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and published my first book last February.

I've been thinking about writing another book. Though smaller this time. More like a booklet.

I'm thinking of doing either more dev career ones, or more about the stuff I do as a consultant in software orgs.

Tell me to stop, tell me what you'd read, HALP.

Discussion (7)

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radiomorillo profile image
Stephanie Morillo • Edited

Hey Ryan!

Just curious: why do you want to be convinced not to write another book? It sounds like while the process was probably strenuous, you enjoyed it! 😄

I self-published two books myself this year so I would, if anything, offer encouragement.

How did you select the topic for your first book? How has the reception been thus far?

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Ryan Latta Author

Yay for you!

Well, my first book was more about getting it out the door than getting people to read it. I've sold some copies, but I knew going in you don't write a book to become wealthy :)

Encouragement is also fine. My writing teacher is also saying I should. At the end of the day I feel the itch to do it, but don't want to write another book that nobody cares about. That is mostly a marketing thing, but it weighs on me all the same.

Part of me thought of this as smaller books as lead-generation for other material, and just building up my street-cred. Part just feels like taking on the challenge and doing it again.

First topic was basically built around the question, "What could I get up and rant about without feeling embarrassed?" For me that was helping devs with career stuff.

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Stephanie Morillo

I hear that! You didn't ask for unsolicited advice so I won't offer any, but I'll say that I agree with you re: the marketing thing.

Brainstorming: let's say you decide not to write a book right now, or even on the topic you were thinking about, perhaps that content can be repurposed in other ways, like blog posts or newsletters? The freebies-for-lead-gen idea is also really good!

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Ryan Latta Author

Oh I'll take all the advice anyone gives!

Most of the topics I'm thinking of writing an ebook about I've blogged about at least once already. They are:

  • A Deep Dive on Developer Resumes
  • Interviewing Strategies
  • Understanding Offers and Benefits
  • How to Have Better Meetings Right Now
  • Metrics and Measures for Managers
  • Agile for Developers
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Stephanie Morillo

That's awesome!!

Yay, glad you welcome some advice. Here are some questions to get you started thinking through the topic and your marketing strategy:

  • Have you conducted market research already to see if similar books already exist, and if they do, how your book differs? That would be my starting point. It is totally OK if there are similar books out there, what matters is framing and understanding how they are different from yours. Take a look at the book descriptions, table of contents (if available), download sample chapters (if available).

  • If these books aren't that much different than what you had in mind, look at the reviews and see what people have said about them. What did they feel was missing, if anything? What recurring themes come up?

  • Look at forums, blogs, etc, places where people who would be interested in these titles hang out. How do they describe their problems and pain points with these subjects?

  • And w/r/t marketing: how much value are you delivering already? Can people readily find free content that you've created which will give them a sense of your writing style, your authority on these topics, and helpful tips that they can implement right away? Do you have a mailing list, and if so, are you nurturing them already? Are you promoting your current book, do people know what you're working on?

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Ryan Latta Author

Hm, for my new booklet ideas I haven't done any of this yet. For my first book though, I'd say I covered most of things to some degree, but none of it quite sticks.

For example, there are lots of books on general job advice, mine is specific for devs. There are plenty on technical interviews, mine covers the whole process and favors strategy instead of coding questions. People here on dev.to for example obsess about portfolios which I've got a chapter on and articles here and there as well.

I have a mailing list with engaged folk, but it doesn't grow. What it comes down to, I think, is some of my stuff could be refined to be more targeted, but I suspect I don't have a good outreach or way to attract people to me. Social media doesn't seem to work really well yet, and I get a trickle of people interested here despite having close to 2k followers.

Anyway, something is missing. I try not to get down on myself about it, more to learn and practice. The booklets were another try and way to apply some of my energy.

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Stephanie Morillo • Edited

Gotcha! The reason I asked about the market research is cos I came across a similar title earlier this year: De-Coding the Technical Interview. I've seen at least one more on Twitter re: resumes for devs; don't recall the author. I did research prior to announcing both my eBooks just to get a sense of what was out there.

I just checked out your blog and you publish regularly (which is awesome!). Re: newsletter signups, a few comments: I hypothesize that the CTA you're using for the newsletter sign up on your site ("Join Now!") may not be clear enough to visitors; what are they "joining"? Common CTAs for newsletters are "Sign up" and "Subscribe", with the latter being the most correlated to newsletter signup activity (it may be worth running an A/B test on this). The good news is you have an engaged list, so there's probably ways you can ask your list for feedback on some of your ideas or just to understand their pain points. That way you'll be able to deliver something you know your target audience really wants or really needs.

I'll stop there, but I hope you keep going! It's a lot of trial and error but if you can find a way to make experimenting with different approaches fun it makes it easier to stick through it.